Sunday, November 25, 2012


I wish that one good turn really deserved another
I wish that people could easily forgive others.
I wish that estrangements were brief and led to rekindled and closer reunions
I wish that prayer lists were not fodder for gossip
I wish that people truly cared for one another
I wish that there were a support group for people with disabled spouses
........that people kept their word
.............that more people tried to be kind first
.................that more people were empathetic
....................that people worried about love first and religion second
.......................that compassion came before judgment
........................that people would volunteer to walk a mile in another's moccasins before criticizing
.........................that the holiday season did not dredge up so much pain
...........................that there would be people who truly meant what they said and said what they meant
.............................that money didn't determine our social circle
...............................that I wouldn't become frustrated
.................................that I would be a better person
...................................that I knew now, God's purpose for all of this

But since I know that God does turn all to good for those who live in Christ Jesus, I am humbled and know that this suffering will not be eternal.

What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? 

As it is written: "For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."--Romans 8:35-39

Thanks be to God

It is nearly advent and I can focus my gaze on the wee babe, conceived without sin, who became sin for our salvation and know that everything will be alright.......

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sacred Intercession Prayer Journal-Perfect Christmas Gift

Have there been instances in your life when someone asked for your prayers for a specific intention and you wonder what the outcome of the prayers might have been? Where do those prayers go? Have you promised to pray for someone and perhaps, the busyness of life took over, and you forgot to continue your prayers?

Often, those little scraps of paper I tucked in my pocket, purse, or bible were lost or misplaced, and that frustrated me. Recently, a delightful book made its way to my home and I had to tell you about it. Titled Sacred Intercession, this exquisite gem was designed and written by Julie Rudnick, a wife, mother of two daughters, and member of St. Patrick Parish in Wadsworth, Illinois; and is a tool that will be on my bedside table each night.

Face it; while we all have good intentions, at times, our prayer life becomes stale or nonexistent. While most people desire to deepen their relationship with God, pressure, stress, time and disorganization often play a role in putting prayer in the back seat.

The beautiful Sacred Intercession Prayer Journal is designed to help make prayer a foundation for knowing God, deepening our relationship with Him, and developing a holy and sanctified life through intercessory prayer.

Creating the ecumenical prayer journal was the result of a tug on Julie’s heart about four years ago as she struggled to find an appropriate gift for the five women in her Friday night prayer group.

“I was looking for something that would allow me to collect and organize a series of prayers and have room for a ‘prayer list’ to help keep us organized,” she said. “Every Friday evening, my prayer group would share our intentions for the following week and we all took individual notes on who or what we would be praying for on each day of the upcoming week. So, throughout the course of the week, we would all lift up the person, need or concern on the particular assigned day and ‘soak’ them in prayer.”

After discovering the power of praying scripture and personalizing scripture for the person in need, Julie wanted to include those prayers in the ‘book’ she was looking for. Unfortunately, no such book existed, other than blank spiral bound journals or engagement calendars. Because nothing was available, she handmade her journals the first year by purchasing a spiral bound engagement calendar and pasting in pages of prayers in scrap book style over the pre-printed pages in the spiral calendars she bought.

“This was my Christmas gift for these five women, and we all used this first journal throughout the year,” said Julie. “The following year, we invited others to join us and expanded to 20, and as more people saw the journals, they asked where and how they could get one.”

Throughout her search for a product like the one she developed, Julie recalled the enormous number of ‘new age’ and what she called, ‘light weight’ Christianity books on the shelves and realized that truth was lacking in all of them.

“My heart hurt when I saw all the new age products that had no substance to them,” she said. “One in particular was placed front and center with general style calendars at a major book store-and it spoke of  blessings, gifts, and strengths. I was attracted to it, but after reading it, found absolutely no reference to God or Jesus. It had tarot style cards associated with it and it seemed so ridiculous to me under the guise of ‘blessings, gifts and strengths.’ For someone to put so much effort and brainpower to ‘create’ a false system when the truth-Jesus, is just waiting for us to turn and acknowledge Him, was upsetting. I was mad and it was on that day that something in me said, ‘see truth be put on the shelf’ and so I found myself saying, ‘I will publish a journal—I have no idea when or how, but I’m going to do it and I know the Lord is going to show me how’ And He did. Doors began to open as He surrounded me with others to help with the design of the journal and distribution infrastructure.”

The journey towards creating the prayer journal followed a week-long course at the Healing School of Prayer in Jacksonville, Florida a couple of years ago. After the course ended, Julie and a friend began the intercessory prayer ministry at her parish.

“Over the last three years, He has led me deeper into the call of healing prayer and intercessory prayer and I find myself helping and showing others how to pray and how to inspire and encourage others to live their faith by living a life of prayer,” she said. “So many Catholics and Christians in general do not really know how to pray and are lacking depth in their relationship with Jesus. Prayer is how we enter into that relationship and it is how we deepen and grow in our faith journal and relationship with Him.”

Since it’s inception, feedback from the 338-page spiral bound journal has been popular among those who have purchased it, or received it as a gift. Designed to be a personal prayer aid, this calendar-based journal will meld daily life with praying for the needs of others, by recording upcoming surgeries, exams, doctor appointments or special events - such as birthday blessings, weddings, speaking engagements, and more. The weekly calendar pages become a daily prayer list and allow users to plan, as well as look back to track answered prayers.

“I think this journal will help others on multiple levels,” explained Julie. “From beginners to established pray-ers. From those who have a desire to pray and cannot seem to make it a consistent part of their daily life to those who do have an established prayer life, the journal can enrich their faith and prayer life.”

If you or someone you know would appreciate a prayer journal for Christmas, Sacred Intercession is available for $24.99 with a discount for three or more:

Sacred Intercession is also on Facebook 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Author finds love from heaven

Written by Karen Mahoney, Special to your Catholic HeraldThursday, 15 November 2012 09:29

“Words are so powerful they should only be used to heal, to bless, and to prosper.”
plotzRose and Charlie Plotz, center, celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1996 at St. James Parish Hall in Mukwonago, surrounded by family including their daughter, Elizabeth Rose Way, left, in flowered dress. (Submitted photo courtesy Elizabeth Rose Way)The wisdom from this Jewish proverb is the foundation of every word Elizabeth Rose Way writes.
“That ancient wisdom, about the power of our speech, is something I mention and promote at every opportunity,” she said.
Way is known for a weekly “Erma Bombeck-style” column titled, “The way it is … sometimes” that ran from 1997 to 2009. The column ran in Pennsylvania’s North East News-Journal and West County News-Journal and offered a glimpse into daily life as she and husband Robert raised two daughters and a son.
A Milwaukee native, Way grew up on Potters Lake in East Troy, where she belonged to St. James Parish, Mukwonago, attended the parish grade school, Catholic Memorial High School and Cardinal Stritch College. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education, with a concentration in voice.
While in college, she met Robert on a blind date. After he completed service in the Army, they were married in Pewaukee in 1970, at the Schoenstatt Shrine, Chapel of Mary Virgin Thrice Blessed.
“Forty-two years later, I like to tell people that ‘we still take turns being blind,’” she joked. “This is how our marriage has survived, and it thrives – although, sometimes, it is also necessary to be deaf and mute, like the three monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”
The couple belongs to St. Gregory Thaumaturgus Parish in the Erie Diocese.
Way’s column grew with her children, 42, 41 and 33, who, she said, managed successful solo flights out of the cold northern family nest and appear contentedly settled in sunny southern trees.
Comfort through stories of loss
When her parents, Rose and Charlie Plotz, died in 2006 and 2007 respectively, laughter was relegated to the back burner. More than grief, she experienced moments of wonder and awe as others who offered comfort shared their own stories of loss.
“I listened and felt their overwhelming peace despite the depths of their grief,” she said, adding, “and I decided those stories needed a home, a place where they

If you want to read her book:

“And I Will Love You from Heaven”  (2010)—ISBN:  978-1-4502-4756-6 by Elizabeth Rose Way is available at:Sincerely Yours Village Market Place 2888 Main Street East Troy, WI 53120
(262) 642-5400
Or through, 
Barnes & Noble Or IUniverse
could be remembered, retold and shared with others.”
Those stories were the backbone of “And I Will Love You From Heaven,” a book she wrote in 2010. The title reflects the words Way’s mother spoke to her before she died.
The book is a treasury of real-life experiences and cherished, unexpected moments that offer consolation and comfort for grieving hearts. One story speaks of the promise of everlasting life: “’I saw Dad last night,’ Patrick told his sister. It was an ordinary enough comment to make, except that Dad had been dead more than a year.”
“The stories I heard and wrote in the book range from seemingly ‘ordinary’ to supernatural,” Way explained. “Music, dreams, visions, someone’s touch, words, nature, especially rainbows, children, angels – all have a place in ‘And I Will Love You From Heaven.’”
Book helps her through another loss
The book offers hope to those treading the murky waters of death.
While writing it was cathartic for Way as she navigated her grief, she had no idea how much she would come to rely on her own words after receiving a devastating phone call on Feb. 15, 2012.
“My sister called with the news that our 53-year-old little brother was dead,” she said. “He had died most unexpectedly, in his sleep. She was called to identify his body.”
Eyes welling with tears, as she shared the pain of her loss, Way, grandmother of three girls, 4, 3 and 1, can still laugh as she recalled the outpouring of support from others, especially as they advised her to read, “this wonderful little book, called ‘And I Will Love You From Heaven.’”
Stories are ‘continual spring’
“There is a smidgeon of humor in this book, a great deal of gentleness and quiet lifting up,” said Way. “I tell audiences that I realize I wrote the book then so that the stories would have time to go deep, deep, deep inside me, to help me now. And they do. They are a continual spring, welling up, lifting me through the tremendous grief I am experiencing at my brother’s death, more and greater than I experienced with the deaths of my parents.”
In the book’s closing pages, Way quotes St. Catherine of Siena: “All the way to heaven is heaven.”
She also quotes from the Roman Catholic funeral rite:  “Life is changed, not ended.”  And she follows with a reflection:
bookcoverThe cover of the book Elizabeth Rose Waypublished following her parents’’ deaths in 2006 and 2007.“[The living] can respond to such change in two ways. We can embrace it and actively incorporate its lessons into our daily lives, or we can deny it and attempt to bury it in our psyche. These options can be likened to a sort of mental composting or to dumping. Just as physical garbage is turned into beneficial humus with the help of time, moisture, and physical labor, distressing events can be turned into interior strength with patience, tears, and attention. Or they can be ignored, tossed along the roadside of our consciousness, and left to rot, fester, and contaminate our emotional environment.
“…An opportunity comes [for us] to see with new eyes – to live more freely, fully, and faithfully in the psychological skin of our humanity.  With a sharp, radical slap against the human heart, Death points us in the direction of what matter most – People, living in relationships that encourage, nurture, and honor one another’s lives.” (excerpted from “And I will Love You from Heaven.”)
Humor defines first publication
“And I Will Love You From Heaven,” is Way’s second publication; her first is a humorous book titled, “Love Every Minute of Moms,” published in 2004 after her mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 1999 and not expected to live much longer.
“When she was still alive at Christmas 2003, I figured if I was ever going to give her a copy of a book I’d written, I’d better get moving,” she said. “Easter 2004, I inscribed her copy of ‘Love Every Minute of Moms,’ hot off the presses. In the year before she died, she told me she always took it along to doctor appointments and treatments, where she would read sections over and over, sometimes sharing with others. And she was always so pleased to see them smile, hear them laugh and be able to tell them, ‘My daughter wrote it.’ Again, the power of words….”
Throughout her more than 800 columns, articles and personal correspondence, Way holds dear the reminders of those lives who have passed before her and the impact they had on her life.
Tribute from Bombeck’s husband
When Erma Bombeck died in 1996, Way wrote a tribute for her family. While she can’t recall the exact poem, she hoped that her words, dripped in her usual humor, would be encouraging to Erma’s husband Bill and their children.
“I can’t remember its title; it was a comparison of me to Erma – she the oak, me the sumac; she the ocean, me a mud puddle; her words bouncing and skipping, mine tripping and falling,” said Way.
“Months later, Bill sent a handwritten note to me. He said that I’d ‘turned the tables on Erma,’ and he mentioned her ‘self-effacing humor,’ comparing it to my correspondence. He thanked me for the ‘intriguing’ poem and sympathy that I had extended. …. more word power.”
Way dreams that as people read her work, something inside them vibrates with joy, strength and hope. She prays that they begin to see more deeply into themselves and will fall in love with the Creator-Redeemer-Comforter at the core of their being.
“When I write, I do not so much feel that I am sharing my faith as much as I feel that I am sharing the experience of being deeply loved, and also sharing the freedom that allows me to wrestle with the Holy One, the way Jacob wrestled at Peniel,” she explained. “And I think often of Flannery O’Connor’s words: ‘You … write the best you can … for the sake of returning your talent increased to the invisible God to use or not use as he sees fit.’”

Friday, November 16, 2012

Family keeps Mikey’s memory alive

Written by Karen Mahoney, Special to your Catholic HeraldThursday, 15 November 2012 09:59

Michael Janasik was just 16 when he signed the organ donor portion of his new driver’s license.
It was a remarkable gesture for someone so young, so full of life.
coloredpicMichael Janasik is pictured as an angel watching over his family in this 2010 drawing titled “My Family,” created by his younger brother, Robert Behl, now 11.And it was one that two years later would save the lives of five other people after Mikey died suddenly from an auto accident.
On July 13, 2009, Mikey was at a party in Winneconne and got into a vehicle with a man who, authorities learned later, had alcohol and marijuana in his system. He was a multiple drunk driving offender. The car hit a light pole, flipped and landed on its roof. The driver ran away, leaving Mikey alone to die.
Knowing how passionate he felt about organ donation, his devastated mother, Karen Behl, and stepfather, Kevin, made sure his wishes were carried out.
According to Karen, Mikey donated his heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, and kidneys – giving five people a new chance at life.
“We heard from three of the people who received his organs and it helps so much to know that he is living on in others,” she said. “Hearing their stories helped me to feel more peaceful about having to go through the agonizing pain of losing him.”
Since he was young, the family knew that Michael was wired differently than other boys. Extraordinarily social, he could relate to any person of any age, race or religion.
“He was very high spirited and loved people,” said Karen. “He didn’t care if the person was a toddler or elderly, he would want to sit and connect and get to know the person and talk to them. He loved all people, no matter what color or financial background, and probably his greatest asset was that he didn’t even think of diversity. He just thought of people as people.”
Many affectionately called Mikey “the mayor” because he enjoyed shaking hands with everyone, said his mother.
“He just knew almost everyone and genuinely enjoyed shaking their hands and getting to meet them,” said Karen. “He also enjoyed fishing, boating, golfing, playing basketball and spending time with friends and family.”
Mikey, who has three brothers, Nicholas and Joel Janasik and Robert Behl, 11, attended St. Robert Elementary School in Shorewood and later, Bayside Middle School and Nicolet High School. He had planned to attend Fox Valley Technical School.
“Mikey wanted to do something in manufacturing,” said Karen. “He didn’t care all that much for academics, but liked the idea of working with his hands. He also thought about eventually becoming a police officer.”
To deal with their overwhelming grief, Karen and Kevin honored Mikey’s memory with a walk-a-thon July 16, 2011 to raise funds for the Blood Center of Wisconsin/Organ donation. Karen is a registered nurse educator and trains new nurses at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, and Kevin is an administrator for MadisonmikeyfamilyKaren Behl enjoys a boat outing with her family before her son, Michael Janasik (Mikey), was killed in a car accident. Pictured above, are Nicholas Janasik, left to right, her husband, Kevin Behl, Robert Behl, Mikey and Karen. (Submitted photos courtesy Karen Behl) Medical Affiliates and various programs at Columbia St. Mary’s. Because of their medical backgrounds, they value the importance of blood, organ and tissue donations.
“We just wanted to celebrate his life and have others energized to be able to share their memories with us, while doing something to help others,” said Karen. “I loved that his friends are connected by looking at his pictures and telling stories about him. We laugh and carry on his memory that way. Our first walk, we had 170 participants and raised about $7,000 for the Blood Center.”
Anne Taylor, development associate for the Blood Center of Wisconsin, said funds from the walk-a-thon supported education and communication about the need for organ donors.
“There are many people on the waiting lists for organ donations and there is a lot of misinformation among the general public about donations,” she explained. “Because Karen is an educator herself, her goal was in getting people to understand how important it is to sign up for the registries, and any funding we can get that will help us spread the word is so very important.”
As it was in Mikey’s case, one donor can help save or restore a number of people’s lives. The need is especially great for minorities such as African Americans who often are on long waiting lists for kidney transplants. There are currently more than 110,000 people on transplant lists; and many will die while waiting.
“Many African Americans have diseases that cause kidney failures, and high blood pressure and diabetes are among them,” said Taylor. “Some can wait years for a donation. Being an organ or tissue donor is a wonderful way to honor the person you have lost while doing something good for other people. It makes everyone feel good when you are a part of something like that. Karen is a really wonderful person; she is very strong and didn’t want her son’s organs to be wasted.”
The family, members of St. Eugene Parish, Fox Point, has turned to their Catholic faith to navigate the pain and unanswered questions that accompany the loss of a child. When they endured the difficult court trial that resulted in a 25-year sentence for the drunk driver who killed their son, they were at peace knowing others are protected from the behavior of this individual.
“Once the trial was over, we just all felt more peaceful,” said Karen. “I believe that my faith got me by and I often wonder how anyone could get through a tragedy like this without faith. I had to know that Michael was safe and in the arms of Jesus and with God. I really do feel he is there and at peace, too.”
In continuing to honor his memory, the family recently held their second walk-at-thon, benefitting Bayside Middle School where Mikey had many positive experiences.
“He really connected with the teachers there and enjoyed those years at Bayside,” said Karen. “We had about 270 walkers and raised approximately the same amount of money as we did in the first walk-a-thon.”
While the fundraisers are time consuming and require much planning, the Behls hope to host another one next year.
“I hope we can do this, but we aren’t sure what next year will bring, or who we plan to raise the funds for,” said Karen. “But I do really feel that friends and family and friends of family really enjoy getting together to do this for others.”
As a nurse, Karen witnesses tragedy nearly every day. Her experience in losing her son gives her empathy and compassion that most are unable to comprehend. This combination of faith, compassion and understanding helps her to motivate others to dig deep into their own roots of faith.
“The only thing that has really gotten me through this has been my faith,” she said. “I just don’t know how anyone could get through something like this without it. I know that as a health care provider I would have lifelong issues with bitterness and anger, but I choose to live in a peaceful way.”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Century of Carmelites in archdiocese

Written by Karen Mahoney, Special to your Catholic HeraldThursday, 15 November 2012 10:23

Nearly a hundred years later, Blessed Maria Teresa of St. Joseph might be surprised to see the dark walnut staircase still standing in the foyer of the Carmelite Home for Boys at 1230 Kavanaugh Place in Wauwatosa.
carmelitesCarmelite Srs. Gloria Marie, left to right, MaryPetra and Maria Giuseppe look at photographs at the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus motherhouse in Wauwatosa, on Oct. 30. The order is celebrating 100 years of ministry in America on Nov. 21. View and purchase more photos.With its original finish, the staircase is testimony to the endurance of German born, Anna Maria Tauscher, when, after converting to Catholicism on Oct. 30, 1888, was shunned by her family and became homeless.
Offered shelter in a convent in Cologne, Germany, Tauscher sought to enter Carmel and become a Carmelite Sister, but was advised to wait and pray. A couple of years after her conversion, she dreamt of the crucified Jesus covered in thorns, with a crown of thorns encircling his heart. Afterward, she said, “I shall not die before the Servants of the Divine Heart are spread all over the world.”
She went on to found the order of the Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus, dedicating her life to providing shelter for the homeless. She opened a home for the homeless in Berlin and later a novitiate with 14 novices in the Netherlands.
Brings ministry to America
Blessed Maria Teresa wanted to bring her ministry to the United States and in 1912, came to America to establish an apostolate in Cleveland. However, the bishop of Cleveland, who invited her, was in Rome when they arrived. To make matters worse, he had a strong dislike for Germans. Despite obstacles, she and four other sisters came to Milwaukee, where Archbishop Sebastian G. Messmer granted them permission to establish a home in the city.
To honor their foundress and their order, the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus are celebrating 100 years in America on Nov. 21, with an open house,

If you want to go:

100th Anniversary of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus (in Milwaukee and America)
Wednesday, Nov. 21
Carmelite Provincial House
1230 Kavanaugh Place,
Open house and tour: 
2 to 5 p.m.
Rosary: 6:30 p.m.
Mass: 7 p.m. celebrated by
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki
Reception following Mass
rosary and Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Jerome Listecki, followed by a reception. The celebration, sponsored by the sisters and the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate in Oak Creek, is a tribute to the service the sisters have provided to homeless, poor and disenfranchised.
The current boys’ home and provincial motherhouse was the second Milwaukee area home founded by the 57-year-old nun. The first, named the St. Joseph Boys’ Home, located on South Pierce Street, opened on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, Nov. 21, 1912. The home was dedicated for the care of orphaned children.
Since then, the Northern Province of the Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus in the United States consists of five ministries:
  • The provincial motherhouse in Wauwatosa
  • St. Joseph Home for the Aged in Kenosha and Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Residential treatment center for boys in Wauwatosa
  • Residential treatment center for girls in East Chicago, Ind.
  • Emergency shelter care for infants and small children in East Chicago, Ind.
As director for the provincial motherhouse, Sr. M. Immaculata teaches and guides the novices and newly professed. Applicants range in age from 18 to 30, and possess good health, common sense and a cheerful disposition, she said. Those who present a submissive will to serve God in whatever capacity the superiors judge best are admitted to postulancy.
Women given time to adjust
When a woman arrives at the motherhouse, she is given time to adjust to life in the community. For next six to nine months, she learns about the order’s spiritual life and is initiated into the works of the congregation.
After postulancy, the novitiate consists of two years. The first year is one of an intense introduction into Carmelite spirituality. The novice resides in the provincial carmelite2Sr. Mary Immaculata, or Sister M, director of the provincial motherhouse, displays a photo of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus first property in Milwaukee on South Pierce Street. (Catholic Herald photos by Allen Fredrickson)house, but does not participate in any of the apostolic ministries of the congregation.
The second-year novice will spend time away from the provincial house in one of the local homes. She will participate in the apostolic mission of the respective home and will be under the direction of a sister who will provide continuity in the course of studies already undertaken.
At the conclusion of the novitiate, the novice pronounces her first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. She is considered a junior sister, and will be given an assignment in one of the homes of the province according to her readiness and general inclination.
Educational opportunities are available and training will be given in connection with her work.
Following five years as a junior sister, a sister enters a tertiate period, where she may remain in a house other than the provincial house for six months.
A thorough review of the vows, the Carmelite rule, directory, and constitutions are pursued. The sister is encouraged to spend additional time in prayer and study in preparation for pronouncing her final vows.
Study, recreation, even roller blading, part of life
Recently professed, junior sisters, Sr. Faustina Marie and Sr. Mary Rose Therese are studying the Carmelite spiritual life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the rule of the order and their vows. Both are happy with their call to serve God as religious sisters.
“When I am not studying, I take care of the refectory and housework,” said Sr. Faustina, who also enjoys participating in her native Hawaiian dancing in her spare time. “Dance is one way I worship God.”
Serving as the sacristan, assistant cook and baker, Sr. Rose Therese is the designated computer expert and gardener.
“I love my vocation,” she said. “My life is a gift from him, and I want to return it back to him as my gift, and to follow his ways.”
Rising at 5:30 a.m., the sisters begin each day with 6 a.m. prayer, followed by a half hour of meditation, and Mass celebrated with the Pallottine Fathers.
“We also participate in spiritual reading in common, have our meals together, celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours and work in our various ministries, and we have weekly eucharistic adoration,” said Sr. Immaculata. “We are a contemplative and active order and follow the rule and spirit of St. Teresa of Avila who said that it is important to pray and also to recreate.”
There are eight sisters residing in the motherhouse and on Oct. 30, the feast day of Blessed Mary Teresa, nine sisters, including the provincial superior, Sr. Maria Giuseppe, joined the sisters at the motherhouse for prayer and celebration.
“We came to pray and have them give us a free lunch and then run,” laughed Sr. Maria Giuseppe, adding, “They are very good cooks.”
Serious about prayer, service, recreation
The sisters make rosaries and scapulars and donate them where most needed, explained Sr. Maria Giuseppe. While they are serious about prayer and service, they are also serious about recreation, and insist it is integral to a healthy vocation.
“We need to rejuvenate through dance, singing and playing,” she said. “If we are mopey, it is not a good vocation. We are active and enjoy all sorts of activities and hobbies.”
The atmosphere in the motherhouse is anything but mopey. The sisters in the Northern Province, who range in age from 26 to 92, are ebullient; and emanating from their prayer life is a joyful and playful demeanor.
The head cook, Sr. Mary Zachary, has lived in the convent for 40 years and enjoys shopping for groceries as much as she does cooking and enduring gentle teasing from the other sisters.
“She cooks and we eat,” laughed Sr. M. Carmelita.
For 77-year-old Sr. Mary Petra, bookkeeper of the boys’ home, her penchant is baseball.
“I like to watch it as often as I can,” she said. “I am a big fan.”
Work with delinquent boys
The sisters serve in the motherhouse, or in another of the Northern Province ministries, such as the attached Carmelite Home for Boys. The home is a private non-profit residential treatment center licensed by the State of Wisconsin, Department of Health and Family Services, as a child caring agency.
“The boys’ home is for delinquent boys who are sent to us by the juvenile court, as well as those who are neglected or emotionally disturbed,” said Sr. Immaculata. “We currently have a dozen boys between the ages of 11 through 17 who stay here. Our goal is to bring troubled children to a level of functioning to return them to the community as productive and law-abiding citizens.”
The program provides comprehensive care for these youth, which includes psychiatric, mental health, spiritual, academic, daily living and recreational opportunities.
Funds generated by prayer, annuities
The funds to maintain the motherhouse are a result of intense prayer, benefactors, former boys who lived in the orphanage, as well as annuities from the other homes.
“This is a formation house, so each of the other homes helps to support our work here,” said Sr. Immaculata. “The postulants and novices live at the motherhouse and many choose to stay on and help at the boys home.”
An increased interest in religious life has drawn weekly interest to the Carmelite order, and for Sr. Maria Giuseppe, it is very encouraging.
“We usually hear from young women by email first, expressing interest in the order,” she said. “Not a week goes by that we don’t hear from someone. We invite them to visit the East Chicago children’s home and then they can go back home and decide where God is leading them. They look at other congregations and are required to pay off their student loans before they can enter the order. The commitment is hard, but some do decide to enter. We also invite them to come to the motherhouse for a weekend to see how it is, living and praying and participating in meals with the sisters.”
Among the guests at the 100th anniversary celebration will be the mother general from Europe, and sisters from St. Louis, Canada, and Nicaragua. Mass will be celebrated in the gymnasium in the Boys home and a tour of the facility will be offered in the afternoon.
“We are so proud that our Mother Foundress opened this home personally,” said Sr. Immaculata. “She started this house, walked the grounds, saw the staircase that was in her dream, and because they had no money, the sisters all worked together to build a high cloister fence that surrounded the entire property.”